Weight Loss Success

with Susan Call Hutchison

Celebrating One Year

One year ago today I started my first round of the 21 Day Fix Meal Plan, including Shakeology. 

At that point I was addicted to sugar and snacking, and I was so overweight and unhealthy that my doctor recommended that instead of the video workouts that came with the program, I stick to walking or swimming as my exercise.

But with every pound I lost, I got back the ability to move ~ and breath ~ with ease and grace.  I was able to control my blood pressure without medication.  I have decreased my asthma medication to 1/4th of what I was taking a year ago.

And now, 25 pounds lighter, my doctor will let me do any exercise I want, even though we both agree that low-impact is best for me.

This has literally been the healthiest year of my life.

Did I mention that before this year, I’ve had over 14 surgeries (including the removal of a brain tumor in 2010) and so many hospitalizations that I’ve lost count?

Didn’t end up in the hospital once this year.  Do you have any idea what that means to me?

I’m a coach now, because I have an idea of what it could mean to others who need to make the changes I’ve been able to make.

So what’s new?  Tai Cheng.

I’ve just started “Tai Cheng” (Dr. Mark Cheng’s workouts that I’m streaming through Beachbody on Demand) as my workout program.  It’s a 13 week program, with a day off each Sunday.

My husband, Marc, is my inspiration.  He did the whole program, and you should see the difference it made!  He lost 50 pounds, yes, but he also improved his posture, flexibility and endurance.  He looks at me, and he knows how much I need the same things – so I’m going to do it.  (By the way, since he completed Tai Cheng, he’s also done the whole P90X program, and is now urging me to work up to strength/weight/resistance training.)

So, here’s to another year of health, fitness and improvement!


Holiday Weekend! Should I Compromise?

It’s Friday!  And the beginning of a long, holiday weekend.  A weekend that includes the eastern Idaho State Fair.


Last year, the fair meant Wimpy Burgers and chocolate covered cheesecake on a stick. 

I’ve been ultra-dedicated to my eating plan for two solid months.  Should I schedule a “cheat day”?

When I made my decision to take control of my weight, the plan was NO CHEATING.

I figure it like this:  The handling for an addiction is abstaining.  Not compromise.

But my husband and I have known that with the fall comes the start of what we refer to in our house as “the holidays”.

We have not only the State Fair, but birthdays, Halloween, Thanksgiving, and the whole month of December dedicated to Christmas.

For me, holidays and family celebrations are extremely important to the way I live my life.

When I celebrate, I take the time to think about how to create an atmosphere, how to express the spirit of the season, and how to share my experience with those I love.

Up until this year, splurging on special foods has been a big, big part of that.

So how am I going to get through this season, without compromising my promise to live a healthy life – and at the same time without compromising my commitment to family celebration?

I’m going to concentrate on the spiritual more than the physical.

That’s what has made this lifestyle change possible, after all.  I decided that I would dedicate my dieting this time to the Lord, and to eat with “gratitude and restraint.”

I can have fun at the fair, and I can revel in the displays, the sights, sounds and be grateful for the bounty and blessings of the harvest.

I can marvel at the dedication of the students who raised their livestock and the women who crafted their quilts.  I can enjoy the talents of the cake decorators and the photographers.  I can watch the faces of the littlest fair-goers and take a lesson from them about enjoying the moment.


Everybody takes their best efforts to the fair.  This year, my best effort has been sticking to my promise to control my eating, and get healthy.   So why would I compromise that?


Don’t Tell Me That Men Aren’t Able to Lose Weight Faster Than Women.

Why do men lose weight faster than women?  And don’t tell me they don’t.

I have been on the 21 Day Fix meal plan for two months, and have lost 18.5 pounds.  My husband has been on the same program for about one month and he has lost 16.5 pounds.

We both workout.  He even eats more, because the calorie allotment in the meal plan is calibrated to your current weight.

I know, I know, you are not supposed to compare yourself to anyone else.  Your body is yours, and it gains and loses weight in its own way.  But I had to know.  Do men really lose weight faster than women?

Well, here’s what I found out on

Men are genetically designed to have a higher percentage of muscle and less fat.  Muscle BURNS more calories than fat does. So my husband can get away with eating more calories and still lose weight.

So to help even up the odds a little bit, women can build muscle!  Doing strength training by using hand-held weights and using resistance bands – just like in the 21 Day Fix exercise videos – will increase muscle mass and decrease fat stores.  Medical advice is that women do strength training at least twice a week.

Strength training not only builds muscle mass and helps burn more calories, it also strengthens bones, helping to prevent osteoporosis.  And of course, it gives you a shapelier physique.

Those workouts are not for wimps.

I have to tell you honestly, though, I exercised regularly for a whole year, and lost weight before I was able to do a 21 Day Fix workout.  They are not for wimps.

So please do what I did:  Ask your doctor what exercise you should be doing.  Mine had me start with walking and swimming.  Following my doctor’s advice worked for me.  After all, I HAVE lost 18.5 pounds!

I Almost Forgot To Tell You!

Yesterday was Day 21 of my 21 Day Challenge.

The last day!  And today was Weigh-in.

And I got so excited about sharing my results and with my coach and making plans for what I plan to do from here on, I almost forgot to post my results here.

Drum roll, please . . .

In 21 days of sticking to my meal plan and exercising every day, I lost 7 pounds, which translates to:

  • 3 inches off my waist
  • 3 inches off my bust
  • 1 inch off my hips
  • 1 inch off each thigh
  • 1/2 inch off each arm

And I dropped a full dress size.

I feel the best, physically, I have felt in a very long time.

I have decided to stay with this program and reach my long-term goal of losing 38 more pounds.  I would like to wear a size 14 again by my 37th wedding anniversary on December 16, 2015.

But even having lost seven pounds, my body can already do things it couldn’t do twenty-one days ago.   I can imagine how much easier it will be to walk, and swim and hike–and even dance–twenty-one weeks from now, when I have met my goal.



A Trip to Our Farmer’s Market Felt Like a Holiday

Yesterday was Day 19 of my 21 Day Challenge!

Farmer's Market

And today was Farmer’s Market.

You know how it feels when you’ve just cleaned house, put fresh sheets on the beds, maybe set out a vase of flowers or even decorated for a holiday?

That’s the feeling I had this morning as I brought vegetables and berries home from the farmer’s market.  I set them on the counter, in front of the fruit we bought yesterday at the grocery store.

My house felt clean.  It didn’t hurt that everything I got at the market was grown by good friends who live less than three miles away from our house.  It felt a little like a celebration of life and health.

This is the last weekend of the challenge.

Monday, I weigh in again, and take my “after” pictures.  I’ll evaluate the program and write up my conclusions.But I think by now, it’s pretty clear where this is headed.

I think I’ll call my new blog, “My Weight Loss Success.”


They Deserve to be Honored Today

Yesterday was Day 18 of my 21 Day Weight Loss Challenge.


And today is Pioneer Day, July 24th, in Utah and other places (like southeast Idaho, where I live) that Mormon pioneers settled in their migration from the United States in the mid 1800s to the Rocky Mountains, searching for a place where they could live and worship in peace.

I am the descendant of several of those pioneers.  So is my father.  So was his father, and his mother.  And so were his paternal and maternal grandparents.

My mother’s family, however, came from Illinois and Missouri–coincidentally or not, states that drove those offensive and peculiar Mormons out.

We here in Idaho will celebrate with church picnics, music and games.  In Utah, there will be parades, a famous “Days of ’47” rodeo, and fireworks.

Sunday, our meetings of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints will sing the old hymns and remember the heroic sacrifices of our founding fathers.  We will reflect on those who left their homes, their possessions and gave their lives to live as God had called them to live.

As I think of that, it puts my own small sacrifices and goals into perspective.

Was Sugar Strangling My Taste Buds?

Yesterday was Day 17 of my Weight Loss Challenge.


One of the best things about being off sugar for 17 days is that food I thought I “didn’t like” has become delicious to me.

It’s like something has been “reset” in my perception of taste.

I used to turn up my nose at blueberries.  I love raspberries, blackberries and strawberries.  But blueberries, not so much, before now.

But these beauties were on sale for half the price of raspberries, so I gave them a try.

This picture is a purple container portion of blueberries over a red container portion of non-fat yogurt (which I have always loved.)

So delicious.  Not because it’s sweet, but because it tastes good.

Maybe my body is enjoying what it needs! 

It seems like my body was craving sugar before, because it knew it needed something, so I interpreted it as needing the one thing that I knew gave me an emotional boost.

But cocaine, for goodness sake, would give me an emotional boost.  That doesn’t mean my body needs it.

And now that the sugar craving machine has been turned off, I am enjoying the taste of food more.

And finding out that I really do like nourishing food.


[Note:  At the time I wrote this post, I was not affiliated with Beachbody, except as a full-paying customer.]

Do I Really Need Intensity?

Yesterday was Day 16 of my 21-Day Weight Loss Challenge.

This week, my group is concentrating on workouts. 


To be perfectly honest, I would never have been interested in a program that calls itself “Beachbody,” if it were not for my coach and her willingness to tailor a program to fit me,

I would be much more attracted to a program with something about “nutrition” or “health” or “fitness” in the title.  I consider myself spiritual, intellectual, emotional and physical – and in about that order.

What the doctor ordered.

I am a 62 year old woman who is losing weight and improving muscle tone to regain my health and handle loss of abdominal tone that has followed several recent surgeries.

My doctor has advised me to

  • Lose weight at the rate of 1 1/2 to 2 pounds a week to a goal weight of 130-155 lbs.
  • Lose abdominal fat (which can only be done by losing weight)
  • Do weight bearing exercise, specifically walking
  • Do low-impact exercise, specifically swimming and aquatic resistance
  • Keep my heart rate below 115 while exercising 30 to 45 minutes five to six times a week
  • Eat a sensible diet high in fruits, vegetables, whole grains and proteins.

So “Heart pumping, calorie blasting moves that burn off fat in record time” is not exactly what I am going for here.

But changing my life, so the six points above are second nature to me, is exactly what I’m going for.

Working it out.

So today, my workout will be swimming laps for 35 minutes and doing some stationary bike for ten minutes.

Yesterday, my workout was a 40 minute walk, at a brisk pace, in the beautiful countryside that is within blocks of my house.


The canal road I walk along.


Flowers, masquerading as weeds.


Ducks on the canal.


The horse at the corner.

Okay, I’m not burning fat at a record pace.  But I’m making changes I can live with!

And that, in its own way, is intense.


[Note: At the time I wrote this post, I was not affiliated with Beachbody, except as a full-paying customer.]

At Least I Was Amazed: You May Not Be

Yesterday was Day 15 of my 21-Day Weight Loss Challenge.


I went for hours without thinking about eating.

Marc and I had gone to the gym that morning. 

I was pleased with the way a plot for a new book was shaping up, and I sort of swam laps on auto-pilot while I worked out how the murderer would throw suspicion on other characters.

I swam for 35 minutes and rode stationary bike for 10 minutes, working my heart and lungs, but keeping my pulse below 115.

I had a good breakfast and a mid-morning snack.

When I got home from my workout, I ate breakfast.  Since the nectarines that I had bought last Friday were all suddenly ripe, I decided I would eat both purple container portions for breakfast, along with a red container of no-fat yogurt.

Then about noon, after I got my dad his meal, I drank a frosty cup of chocolate Shakeology nutrition drink.


I had made out my menu for the rest of the day.

It was going to include a salad of cucumbers and tomatoes with cottage cheese at about 2:00 and a snack of peanut butter on a toasted English muffin half at about 4:00.

But I was working–writing, editing, going on a walk with Dad, getting the mail, paying bills–and I completely lost track of the time.

Before I knew it, it was 6:30 p.m. and my husband was asking me what I had planned for dinner.

I hadn’t thought of food, and I hadn’t eaten anything since my Shakeology at noon.

What a change.  And yet, I remember living like that before.  When I was a young mother, trying to write when the kids were asleep or at school.  Afternoons would fly and I would have to remind myself that my husband and my kids would soon be expecting dinner.

I want to share a thought about the 21-Day Fix. 

People at Beachbody tell me it takes 21 days to establish a new habit.  Coincidentally, my surgeon has told me it takes 21 days for a skin wound to completely heal.

I have no idea if those two things are related in the scientific world.  But in my world of writing, and symbolism, I kind of like the idea of my body making newer, healthier cells at the same time my mind is making newer, healthier habits.


[Note:  At the time I wrote this post, I was not affiliated with Beachbody or Shakeology except as a customer, paying full price.]

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